Ryan Reynolds was recently crowned as People magazine’s 2010 Sexiest Man Alive. For the last ten years, five of the nine winners (Johny Depp won twice) played leading roles in movies inspired by comic books. Johnny Depp in From Hell, Ben Affleck as DareDevil, George Clooney as Batman, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Reynolds as both Deadpool and the upcoming Green Lantern. Jackman and Reynolds owe much of their recent fame and perhaps even their sex appeal to heroic roles that showcase traditionally masculine ideals.
Is it possible that the comic book movie could be a default media to offer up the sexiest men among us? Most comic book heroes are attractive, well muscled men. They save lives with enviable abilities and physical prowess. For the first 15 years of the title, only one winner has had an association with a comic book movie. Sean Connery starred in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but did so well after being named the sexiest man alive.
Since 1985 People has released this issue every year without ever publishing their criteria. While all but one John F. Kennedy, Jr., were famous actors the other sexy criteria remain unknown. But a survey of common factors might prove useful in predicting future winners. For the last 25 years every winner was white with Denzel Washington being the only exception in 1996. All winners have dark hair with Mr. 1992 Nick Nolte having the lightest. Point of fact: Nick Nolte is NOT a typo. The winners’ biggest roles during a winning year are a broad range of action, romance, drama and James Bond. The winners’ ages span multiple generations from 27 to 59 – youngest John F. Kennedy, Jr to the oldest Sean Connery.
In 2002 a pattern emerged starting with Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock in Daredevil. Just as suddenly as comic books became blockbusters comic book super heroes became sexy. The pattern has continued for a decade.
George Clooney played Batman during the year of his first win (1997). Because of the general agreement on the poor quality of the film, he is very associated with the “worst” Batman. This was true even 9 years later in 2006 his second win. Wolverine would help Hugh Jackman win in 2008 after bulking up to play the very bulky Canadian. Opting not to play Logan as a 5’3 man like he is in the comics, may have helped in the win. Even two time winner Johnny Depp starred in From Hell in 2001. Based on the Allen Moore and Eddie Campbell graphic novel. Which brings us back to Ryan Reynolds. Not only is he the Green Lantern (DC), but he is also Deadpool (Marvel) and has been in the Blade (Marvel) series. Making his comic movie pedigree the most impressive.
But comic book movie stardom alone is not enough to win. Spider-Man, Superman, Sin City, IronMan, and even the Watchmen, with a well built nude man as a main character, couldn’t produce a sexiest man. This leaves the question what movie will produce the next?
I predict the upcoming Star Spangled Avenger, Captain America. Actor Chris Evans played Johnny Storm the Human Torch twice and voiced the computer generated Casey Jones in the 2007 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Evans was also in Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Oni Press) and The Losers (Vertigo) this year.
The Avengers movie is scheduled for release in July 2011 as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This will generate even more buzz about this handsome leading man and the movies will show off what a super soldier serum body like Captain America’s would look like. In less than a year we will find out if People‘s Sexiest Man Alive continues to confer pop culture’s highest honor on superheroes.